By Tab Olsen
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The Bible teaches us that pride is a sin. We are not supposed to parade around boasting about ourselves; but rather, we are to be humble and practice humility. Some people are so puffed up by their own pride that they have little consideration for anyone else. Such a person has a condescending attitude because he or she thinks they are better than everyone. These prideful individuals may actually have a haughty disdain for others and even God. This is a very negative quality, and naturally God frowns upon it.
Last month a high-ranking CrossFit employee and public representative of the company, Russell Berger was fired after tweeting that “celebrating pride is a sin.” Berger was showing his support for an Indianapolis gym, CrossFit Infiltrate, which had declined to hold a workout in honor of Pride Month. A statement from the owner of CrossFit Infiltrate explained, “Total health involves the body, the emotions, relationships, and the spirit…. We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride.”
Seriously, if all people are to be treated equally, why single out certain clients for a special workout in the first place? Where is the diversity in that? Anyway, as a social media user, Berger had often tweeted about CrossFit on his personal Twitter account, as well as tweeting about religious issues since he is the pastor of a church. But this time he was terminated, despite CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman being no stranger to criticism for his own unorthodox social media comments. The CrossFit Infiltrate gym was also forced to shut its doors.
In a series of now-deleted tweets, Berger declared that the “tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent” is a “threat to freedom of expression.” Berger further clarified his position: “I believe that all humans, regardless of their sins, (and we are all sinners), are image bearers of God and worthy of dignity, respect, and value,” he tweeted. “That also means we should care enough about them to tell them the truth about sin.” Which is true, Christians need to be at the forefront of this issue, addressing the problem of sin with love, kindness, and respect.
So now gym owners aren’t even allowed to voice their values and beliefs? And yet the gay mob has the nerve to call Christians intolerant and hateful? It’s obvious who the real bigots are. This was a clear case of social media bullying and heavy-handed intolerance of someone who simply expressed an orthodox tenet of Christianity. Jesus died on the cross to save all of us from our sins, one of which is pride, but that fact was sadly lost on CrossFit management. Moreover, everyone jumped on the homophobia bandwagon while overlooking the crux of the issue.
It’s True, Pride IS a Sin!
It doesn’t matter whether it’s black pride, white pride, rainbow pride, or purple polka-dotted pride. Self-righteous pride is a sin. This type of pride means that you have an inflated opinion of yourself, and take all of the credit for your successes, completely forgetting that it’s only because of God that you even exist. Every single breath that you breathe is a gift from God, and you should be grateful for His gift of life.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Nothing that we accomplish in this world would have been possible without God. “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you then received it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). So basically, pride takes all the glory away from God and puts it on ourselves. In other words, pride is self-worship.
What we say about our own self doesn’t mean anything. It is what God says about us that makes all the difference (2 Corinthians 10:18). But Psalm 10:4 explains that the proud are so full of themselves that their thoughts are far from God: “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” God hates this kind of pride (Proverbs 8:13) because it is a major hindrance to seeking Him.
Satan was thrown out of Heaven because of pride (Isaiah 14:12-15). Satan’s pride was so intense that he had the audacity to think he could replace God as the highest ruler of the universe. Throughout the Bible, we see Satan’s attempts to get as many people as he can to follow in his pride (Genesis 3:4, Luke 4:6-7). Even today, people are doing just that during Pride Month! They are literally following in Satan’s footsteps.
Selfish pride has consequences. Proverbs 16:18-19 says that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” A haughty spirit is the opposite of the spirit of humility that we are called to practice. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Pride has kept many people from accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. Admitting that we have sinned and acknowledging that in our own strength we can do nothing to inherit eternal life is a huge stumbling block for prideful people. God is the Supreme Judge of the world. Those who follow God’s Word will be acquitted and go to heaven. Those who defy God and disobey his Word will be condemned and go to Hell – just as Satan and his minions will be cast into the lake of fire in the Final Judgment.
Is ALL Pride Bad?
It’s totally natural to feel good about composing a masterpiece or doing well on an exam, just as it’s fine to recognize and praise a loved one’s achievement. That kind of pride is justifiable. There is a big difference between the self-satisfaction we feel about a job well done, or the joyful pride we express over the accomplishment of loved ones, versus the arrogant pride that exaggerates one’s importance or abilities.
Unlike the pride that stems from self-righteousness or conceit, feeling good about the successful achievement of a task is not a sin as long as you give credit where credit is due. Always remember that God is the one who gave you your gifts and talents. Moreover, we certainly shouldn’t brag about our accomplishments, or dwell on how pretty our pictures turned out, or go on and on about how adorable our child is because then it becomes nothing but: “Look at what God gave ME ME ME.”
It can be easy to fall into that trap on social media. But we shouldn’t do things purely for the purpose of stroking our egos. Boasting is a sin, just like pride is. James said, “As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:16). Jesus said: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches” (Jeremiah 9:23). Give God the glory—He alone deserves it.
Rather than doing things to make ourselves look better or feel better out of pride, our focus should be building others up and encouraging them. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). The key is putting OTHERS before ourselves.
So even if someone gives you a compliment, you should try to divert the attention to someone else, away from pride and into humility. Russell Berger was supporting CrossFit Infiltrate, praising them for standing by their convictions. The people who harassed Berger did the exact opposite: they arrogantly put themselves up on a pedestal and forced him out of a job, thinking only of their own interests with no respect for his beliefs.
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 3: 1-5).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
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